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Cyber Charters' Struggles: An Update Showing New Troubles in 8 States


Last year, Education Week took a deep dive into the world of full-time online charter schools, examining the ways in which big problems at Colorado's largest cyber charter mirrored sector-wide challenges with academic performance, attendance, and financial mismanagement. We also examined the ways in which a sophisticated lobbying effort has kept the sector growing regardless. And an interactive map highlighted dozens of news stories and state audits and reports pointing to the systemic problems in the cyber charter industry.

Our efforts were rewarded with a first-place award for investigative journalism by the Education Writers Association.

Now, we're back with an update.

We've updated the interactive map to include fresh reports of closures, attendance issues, and other troubles with full-time online charter schools in California, Indiana, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Washington state.

And my colleague Arianna Prothero also noted that despite such problems, cyber charters have gained a powerful new champion: U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who often talks up the benefits of online schools as part of her broad commitment to expanding school choice (and who misrepresented cyber charters' performance in written responses to questions during her confirmation process before the U.S. Senate.)

Stay tuned: Our coverage of full-time online charters will continue in 2018.

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